In May last year, the name Roberto Di Matteo wasn’t even making the bookies’ list of potential candidates to take over the Aston Villa job.
Nigel Pearson was the shoe-in, selected by former chairman Steve Hollis and his team. The new owner though wanted a more marketable name.
Tony Xia perhaps got a little too caught up with the fact that Roberto Di Matteo had won a Champions League trophy with Chelsea. It seemed to fit his wild and outlandish calls of making Villa a top three club in the world, winning the Champions League (European Cup) again and being the biggest English team in China.
The fact that Di Matteo had tasted Championship promotion with West Brom suggested he could at least complete the short-term task of promotion. After all, it was a necessity within the next two years for Xia and the Recon Group.
With Matteo now a goner according to MOMS sources, which is backed up by all the press reports, Xia plans are in a precarious position. As is the club, if Xia doesn’t get Premier League TV rights money within two years, what happens next?
MOMS like many others had initial reservations to Di Matteo‘s potential suitability to the task. First there was journalist intel on RDM’s work ethic at West Brom. Then there was the fact he had previously always inherited decent teams within the context of their division – MK Dons, West Brom and Chelsea and Schalke. The Villa job required rebuilding a team from scratch.
A large percentage of the Villa fanbase was uneasy with Roberto Di Matteo, but the introduction of Steve Clarke and Kevin Bond on his backroom staff relaxed any initial fears.
That summer transfer spend of over £50 million further relaxed supporter views on the Italian, as it was by deemed by a majority of the fanbase to be the best transfer window for the club in many a season.
Di Matteo certainly had the tools to do the job. Of course, it would take a few games to bed it all down and he could have ideally done with a few more weeks of preseason to do that, but there was always enough time in the Championship.
However, there was still big question marks about Villa’s team considering the urgency of promotion. Why take a chance with an unproven 21-year-old goalkeeper without a proper backup? (Gollini’s critical errors have cost Villa six points). Why didn’t Di Matteo really tackle the club’s major problem in recent years – the midfield – which even after the transfer window lacked options and depth (and ability).
MOMS totally prescribes to having patience with managers. 15 to 20 games is normally a good marker to properly gain an impressions as to if a manager is likely to work out. Certainly in the early stages of Di Matteo’s reign he was let down by some injuries and mitigating circumstances, but the team showed plenty of endeavour and spirit. The game against top of the table Huddersfield was a good example of it, but the effort of the players in closing down space and battling in that game seemed to have deserted them in recent games. In fact, Villa seemed to be regressing.
Under Di Matteo, Aston Villa have managed to win only ONE game in 12 matches – 11 games against Championship teams and one match versus a Division Two (old division 4) team.
Patience goes out the window, when it looks like relegation is a more likely outcome to a season than promotion.
I can’t see many Villa supporters losing much sleep over the sacking of Di Matteo. He was on a decent wicket but considering his tally on it and slow progress, bowling him out is simply putting him out of his misery.
As for the question of who’s next? We’ll tackle that elsewhere, but one thing is for sure, it’s become a rather boring question. In the past year or so, Villa have had the same amount of managers as the club has had wins – four.
Whoever comes in, lets hope he’s the kind of guy that might actually last four seasons and I’m not talking about Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer.
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